Old Town Guide 119 In The BWCA?

My Jeep with my Old Town Guide 119
My Jeep with my Old Town Guide 119

Wow, some people think I’m nuts for buying the Old Town Guide 119 and using it on a Boundary Waters Canoe Trip.  I don’t see what the big deal is?  Not sure if it’s just that they don’t like Old Town canoes, or maybe they think an eleven foot nine inch long canoe is just way to small.  I dunno…

In this post I am going to compare my Old Town Guide 119 to a much more expensive Swift Adirondack Pack 12.  You may be surprised, than again maybe not.

Old Town Guide For Canoe Tripping?

I had a mini canoe trip adventure this past Autumn to test out my new Old Town Guide 119.  It worked very well as a solo canoe tripper despite the horrible weather I had to contend with.  Sadly it seems that many people don’t think highly of Old Town Canoes in regards to wilderness tripping.

Maybe it’s because the Old Town Guide 119 is a heck of a lot cheaper than any other solo canoe out there for it’s size and spec info?  Could it be these people… these pals I associate with… are ticked off because they spent thousands of dollars on their solo canoes where I only spent several hundred dollars?  Maybe.

My Old Town Guide 119 on my May BWCA trip.
My Old Town Guide 119 on my May BWCA trip.

I got to ask.  Why is it okay to take a Swift Adirondack 12 or 13.6 on a solo wilderness canoe adventure, and not an Old Town Guide 119?  It’s time to make a comparison!  Let’s compare the Old Town Guide 119 versus the Swift Adirondack Pack 12.

Old Town Guide 119 Versus Swift Adirondack Pack 12

No doubt about it, Swift makes some pretty sweet canoes.  I seriously considered buying one of their Adirondack Pack canoes a few months ago.  Sadly I wasn’t able to get a chance to test one out before I made my purchase.  But I sure liked what I saw when I did my research.

Comparing The Old Town Guide 119 to the Swift Adirondack Pack 12

Old Town Guide 119 versus the Swift Adirondack Pack 12
Old Town Guide 119 versus the Swift Adirondack Pack 12

Right off the top when looking at those specs you notice a few major differences:

  1. Optimal Load Range / Carry weight
  2. Overall Canoe Weight
  3. Suggested Retail Price

Both canoes would be best used with a double bladed paddle.

The Obvious Canoe Weight Difference

To me the only negative aspect when looking at those specs is that the Old Town Guide 119 weighs a little more than twice what the Swift Pack 12 weighs.  Heavier also means slower paddle speeds, but not much slower in the grand scheme of things.  Certainly I have to admit a pack canoe that weighs only 22 pounds sure would be nice – but what is the trade off for having a light canoe?

Swift Adirondack Pack 12
Swift Adirondack Pack 12

The Guide 119 can haul a lot more weight, be it just you or you and your camping gear.  If you can get it into the Guide 119 the canoe can surely handle it.  Also the Old Town is a little wider and deeper, which means it should have better stability and can take some rougher water.

The Guide 119 weighs so much more because of the material used in its manufacturing process.  It can take a much heavier beating then the Swift.  Kevlar scratches easy and can be gouged easily.  A 3 layer poly hull is going to be more like a tank in comparison.  Scrape your Guide 119 over some rocks, drag it over a beaver dam… it’s going to hold up fantastic and for many years of use.

Old Town Guide 119 Trade Off Versus The Swift Adirondack 12

For me the trade off is this:  I could have had a much lighter canoe but I would not be able to haul as much gear on solo wilderness trips.  Nor would I have felt comfortable navigating certain shallow areas of water or beaver infested streams.  Stability is also a thing I like in a canoe, the Swift from what I hear is excellent, but more is better and the stats tell me the Old Town beats it.  Also the price tag is a huge difference.

Twelve years ago when I used to go on canoe wilderness trips the canoe I would use weighed between 75 to 80 pounds.  My Old Town Guide 119 weight 30 pounds less!  Portaging a 49 pound canoe and loading it on and off my SUV is not at all difficult.  My wife can do it alone and she weighs 129 pounds soaking wet.

Imagine solo canoe tripping here in an Old Town Guide 119
Imagine solo canoe tripping here in an Old Town Guide 119

I personally would prefer a canoe that can haul more and take more of beating on a wilderness or river canoe trip.  The Old Town Guide is over $2000 less than the Swift Adirondack Pack 12.  What could you do with that kind of savings?

(Check Out The Full Review Of My Old Town Guide 119 Here)

The Old Town Guide 119 Is A Great Canoe Tripper

I have a couple solo canoe trips planned for 2019.  The first one is going to be in mid May into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and I plan on bringing my Guide 119.  I’ll be gone into the wild for 5-6 nights with one canoe pack and some fishing gear.

SealLine 115L in my Old Town Guide 119
SealLine 115L in my Old Town Guide 119

I have no doubts that my Guide 119 will perform well.  I’ve had it out a few times since I bought.  To be honest I’m very pleased with my canoe.  I ordered it online and there is only one place you can buy the Old Town Guide 119; At a Dick’s Sporting Goods retail location or online.

Interested in buying one online, click here.

Looking for a good solo canoe tripper for deep wilderness and river excursions?  Seriously consider the Old Town Guide 119 when looking at Swift, Nova Crafts, Wenonah, or whatever.  Old Town makes a great solo canoe.



TD is the owner and publisher of TD All Outdoors. He has been enjoying the outdoors since since he was a child. Over the years he has spent as much time as he can solo wilderness canoe tripping, overlanding, hiking, fishing, bushcrafting, hunting, hammock camping, and more. Aside from this blog, he also own his own coffee brand, www.folklore-coffee.com.

2 thoughts on “Old Town Guide 119 In The BWCA?

  1. Hi,

    I don’t know much about canoeing but I wonder if you would be able to tell me what is the most important feature to look for when buying a canoe. Is it the weight? the material it is made of? or something else? Thank you for sharing this post it was very informative 🙂

    1. Hi Celeste,

      It really all depends on what you plan to do with the canoe.  Some people are looking flatwater canoes that are better suited for lakes, and others for moving water like on streams and rivers.  From there you can break down canoe uses by how a person plans to use them… extended canoe tripping, leisurely short duration paddling, bird watching, day tripping…etc…etc…

      Some people like more stability in their canoes while other want a canoe that has better paddling response.  Others need a canoe that can haul a lot of gear.

      Canoe length, width, depth, rocker, weight, hull shape… all have affects on how a canoe will handle and what it can haul.

      For me, as a guy who likes to go solo canoe camping into wilderness settings, I like a canoe that is durable, can haul a fair amount of my gear, and comfortable for long days of paddling.  Stability is also a plus for me because I like to be able to fish on such trips.  The Old Town Guide 119 fits my needs perfectly, and has a very nice price compared to high end ultralight Kevlar canoes.

      Thanks for reading!


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